It’s not every day that the son of a rickshaw driver crosses all sorts of silly social and economic barriers in India to enter the world some call “high art.” But that’s what Kamal Singh from New Delhi did 3 years ago when, on a whim, he walked into the dance studio of a ballet maestro. He was 17-years-old when he put on ballet shoes for the first time. Now he’s got a spot at the English National Ballet School of London thanks to his hard work and a crowd funding campaign.
Kamal was always an active kid, but he was mostly interested in martial arts not the world of tutus, slippers and pirouettes. But after seeing the Bollywood movie, ABCD – Any Body Can Dance, which included some ballet, his life changed. It was the first time Kamal had seen ballet and he was mesmerized, which is a fancy way of saying ballet dance moves put a spell on him.
The movie also included a small part by Delhi-based choreographer, Fernando Aguilera. So what did Kamal do? He Googled him, of course! And showed up at his dance studio, naturally. The dance maestro agreed to take on Kamal and teach him the high art of ballet.
And after three years of hard work it was clear to all he had serious talent.
“It’s hard to become a ballet dancer,” Kamal told Newsy Pooloozi. “I wake up every morning and go to the ballet studio eight to ten hours every day. And I maintain my flexibility and rehearse. It’s very tough. My friends go to parties and nights out, but I’m in the ballet studio training.”
When you see Kamal dance he makes ballet – the dancing on pointe, pirouettes and arabesques – look so easy. But he says it only comes with constant practice and a serious commitment.
“Of course I make mistakes. It’s normal to do. We are humans, not machines,” he said. “ If you make a mistake it’s OK, no problem.”
All the practice he’s put in has surely paid off. Getting a spot in the prestigious English National Ballet School of London is a huge privilege. After a year of training he’ll have the chance to enter the English National Ballet Company as a professional dancer.
But Kamal’s trip nearly didn’t happen. It cost money to attend this prestigious academy, never mind live in expensive London. But his ballet teacher and a handful of people at his Delhi dance studio started a funding campaign.
They didn’t ask for much, but within days they got the minimum amount to at least start him on his journey.
“Yes, I’m happy and excited and a little bit nervous because London is going to be a new place,” Kamal said. “But I love to make new friends. And I want to dance as much as I can.”
Not bad for someone who never even put on ballet shoes until he was 17!
If you’d like to donate or find out more about Kamal and his journey, see his Ketto page.